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INQUEST: WORKMAN DIED TRAPPED BY INFERNO

Machine worker died after failing to escape from burning building

It has been reported by the Manchester Evening News that factory worker Mohamed Shakil Aboo, 47, had to be identified using DNA from his toothbrush after the blaze at Sartex Quilt and Textiles Ltd in Rochdale on May 2011.

An inquest at Oldham Magistrates Court heard that the blaze started after a baling machine became blocked. There were three other members of staff in the premises at the time of the fire, who initially attempted to use fire extinguishers and a water hose to tackle the blaze.

One witness told the MEN:

“I saw that black smoke was coming out of the bottom of the machine. There was a long piece of cloth hanging over the machine to prevent the dust from entering. The sheet caught fire and dropped on the machine. It spread like a flash and there were red and yellow flames touching the factory ceiling.”

Zulficar Ali ran towards reception to ring the fire service. The remaining men ran towards the store room, which housed the diesel generator, to try and escape. Mr Khan added:

“The store room was full of bales that covered the floor and there was no clear walkway to the exit. I followed Shaukat and Mohamed, I made the same way as them. Shaukat was first, I saw him climbing over bales to reach the exit. Mohamed was behind him and that was the last place I saw him. I couldn’t see the floor.”

Mr Khan turned and ran for the roller door leading into a yard next to the canal. He climbed onto an empty cable drum in attempt to scale the wall, which surrounded the yard and was pulled on to the canal bridge by two youths who were passing.

Mr Aboo did not escape from the building and the blaze was so intense that firefighters were unable to enter the premises until the following day to recover his body. A pathologist had to use DNA from his toothbrush matched with a piece of his liver to identify the remains.

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